Italy (October 1-3, 2014)

One of my best friends from college, Tammy, was coming to Italy for a few weeks. I knew I had to find a way to see her! Charlie originally planned to come with us, but the flights were outrageously expensive on the days he was able to take off work, so Connor and I gathered up the courage to take our own adventure!

This was the last time we had seen each other until Italy…Connor was about 4 days old!
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Wednesday
We left in the afternoon to drive about an hour and twenty minutes to the Frankfurt-Hahn airport. It is a small airport in the middle of nowhere, but it was easy to park and get inside. Our flight arrived in Pisa at 9:30pm. After picking up our bag, we hopped into a taxi, and within a few minutes we were at the doorstep of our hotel. Tammy had arrived earlier, checked-in, and emailed me the room number, so we just walked right up the stairs and knocked on the door…and there was Tammy! We hadn’t seen each other since Connor was a few days old. Connor warmed right up to her, and he enjoyed reading a bedtime story sandwiched between the two of us.

Ready for take-off!
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Thursday
Connor was so exhausted from the trip that I had a rare opportunity to shower and get ready while he was still sleeping. Once all three of us were ready, we ventured out to see Pisa. Tammy navigated us just a few short blocks to the Leaning Tower and Baptistry. She had read a lot of Rick Steves’ books, so she was able to tell us a lot of information about everything we saw. The weather was absolutely gorgeous: bright blue sky, puffy white clouds, plenty of sunshine, and perfect temperatures. After walking around the Tower and Baptistry for a little while, we walked back towards our hotel and stopped at a café to pick up breakfast: lattes and sandwiches with Brie and prosciutto. Yum! We ate in the courtyard of our hotel, along with a hungry cat who clearly was used to table scraps, then picked up our bags and checked out of the hotel.

It’s the Leaning Tower of Pisa!!
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Baptistry and Duomo
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Breakfast!
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Tammy lead us on a walk through Pisa as we headed to the train station, and she gave us lots of information and history along the way. After having the ticket machine at the train station eat our money and patiently waiting for an employee to help us, we found our platform and waited for our train. We boarded and relaxed for the one-hour train ride to Florence. Once we arrived, we walked about 20 minutes to our hotel, enjoying the breathtaking views of the Duomo along the way. Our hotel was actually a convent, and we ended up with a huge room with 5 single beds!

Pisa
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On the train from Pisa to Florence
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Duomo in Florence
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After settling into our room, we started walking towards the Accademia art museum. Tammy had already reserved tickets for the afternoon so that we wouldn’t have to wait in a huge line! Connor fell asleep shortly after we entered the museum, and we took advantage of the opportunity to really take our time enjoying the exhibits. The highlight was Michaelangelo’s David statue, which was incredibly impressive. Connor woke up in time to see it, and he stayed pretty content while we finished in the museum.

Michelangelo’s David
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We spent some time meandering around Florence, relaxing on the steps of a Piazza (with Connor’s best buddies, the pigeons), and then indulged in real Italian gelato. Connor chose chocolate, and he loved every bite! We wandered around some more, listened to a few street musicians, and then stumbled upon a carousel. Connor had fun riding it before we started walking back towards our hotel. We found a restaurant for dinner and enjoyed our Italian specialties: ravioli filled with pecorino and pear for Tammy, ravioli with tomato and meat sauce for Connor, ossobuco for me, and tiramisu to share.

Those pigeons get him every time!
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Mmmmm, gelato! I’m pretty sure some strangers took pictures of our spectacle…
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Friday
After a simple breakfast at the hotel, we headed out for the day. Tammy lead us through another part of the city we hadn’t seen yet. We saw the Palazzo Vecchio (Town Hall) and the Uffizi Gallery, stopped for some souvenirs, then arrived at the river. We walked across the famous Ponte Vecchio, a bridge lined with jewelry shops, then shared a pizza for lunch at a small café. It was time to go to the Uffizi for our reserved time, and I thought Connor would be ready to fall asleep for his nap. He wasn’t having anything to do with sleep, but he managed to stay happy enough for us to see the museum. We took advantage of a conveniently-placed gelato shop right outside the museum, and I made the smart choice to give Connor a spoon to share with me this time :). We walked back towards the Duomo and tried to look inside since the line wasn’t long, but, there was an extremely strict dress code. I was wearing shorts and couldn’t go in, so Connor and I stayed outside while Tammy went in. She said the inside wasn’t nearly as impressive as the outside, so I guess I didn’t miss too much!

Palazzo Vecchio (Town Hall)
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Ponte Vecchio
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Pizza for lunch!
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Connor had been a patient little man all day, and we were ready to find a place for him to run around. We walked back to the hotel and he had fun racing around the garden for a while. Checking out of the hotel was a little complicated since the nuns at the convent spoke no English, but Tammy managed to communicate that I needed to go ahead and pay even though she was staying one more night. Tammy walked halfway back to the train station with us, then we said goodbye and there were lots of hugs among the three of us. Connor and I walked the rest of the way to the train station while Tammy stayed for one more night in Florence. My little traveler and I managed to buy a ticket and find our train back to Pisa, then find the shuttle bus to the Pisa airport.

Our flight didn’t leave until 10:00pm…and did I mention that Connor hadn’t napped all day?? He held it together as we boarded and took off, but shortly into the flight he was finally ready to sleep. I was able to pretty much keep him asleep as we got off the plane, picked up our bag, and walked to the car. He went back to sleep in the car and slept the whole way home. It was an incredible trip, but it went by too quickly! Even though it was a lot of traveling for the short time we got to see Tammy, I would do it again in a heartbeat. It was so amazing to spend time with her – in Italy, no less! – and share my new stage of life with her. Things have definitely changed since we met in college!!

This is the best picture we managed to get of the three of us
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My little sleepyhead on the flight home
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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Marilyn Mraz
    Oct 26, 2014 @ 22:36:35

    Oh Ashley, that’s an incredible couple of days. I’m so happy that you and Tammy got to see each other. It made me cry when you mentioned that she walked you half way back to the train and you said your good byes…true friendships endure many years without seeing each other but it seems like only yesterday when you get back together. Your time in Italy was special for many reasons.

    Reply

  2. Trackback: Christmas Adventure, part 2 (Florence, Sanary, & Le Castellet) | The Brokovich Family Blog

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